FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson says he trusts coach Arthur Smith to use him “the right way” as he looks to live up to his billing as the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft.
“He uses me everywhere, from receiver to running back,” Robinson said of Smith after the Falcons opened rookie minicamp Friday. “He lets me do my abilities and skill set the right way, whether it’s catching the ball, running routes, obviously running the football, blocking and doing it all.”
Robinson said he was happy to hear Smith tell him, “I’m going to coach you hard.”
“I’m going to expect nothing less, because he has a plan for me with his coaching style and making sure that I’m doing the right thing on the field,” Robinson said, “and always pushing myself to new limits, new heights, you know, I got to match that.”
Robinson also is working on his relationships in the running back room, where he is expected to step into a big role on an offense that ranked third in rushing last season and still has its rushing leader, Tyler Allgeier, and the versatile Cordarrelle Patterson.
The rookie said he has spoken over FaceTime with Allgeier.
“It was all love from the start,” Robinson said. “I was just like, ‘Yo, bro, like, I’m just happy to be here. Happy to get to work with you and kind of pick your brain on certain things and be a guy that will just compete, and we’ll both have fun in that offense.'”
Asked about the longevity of an NFL season, Robinson — who played in all 12 of Texas‘ regular-season games in 2022 before opting out of the Alamo Bowl to focus on the draft — acknowledged that it would be an adjustment but said he was confident in how he has previously maintained his health.
“Even in college, I was big in keeping my body healthy, eating the right things,” he said. “Like after this, I’m going to go in the training room.
“I know it was the first practice, but you got to create the routine for yourself. And for me, I got to create it every single week. Because my body, at the position I play and no matter where I line up, you can still take hits, so I got to make sure I get my body fresh for every single week.”
Robinson became the first running back drafted in the top 10 since Saquon Barkley went No. 2 overall in 2018. With that comes high expectations — like winning Offensive Rookie of the Year — but Robinson said he isn’t paying attention to any of that.
“It’s really easy for me to just not pay attention to that stuff,” he said. “I know that God has a plan for me. And if it’s to do those kinds of things, then that’s what I’m going to do. But I do know that I’m going to work as hard as I can to be the best football player, the best teammate that I can be and then obviously get everything down the right way when it comes to the playbook and my assignments and know what I’m supposed to do.
“And then after that, then hopefully, those kinds of things will be in my life.”